Harvey, Kenneth J. 1962- (Kenneth Joseph Harvey)

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Harvey, Kenneth J. 1962- (Kenneth Joseph Harvey)


Born 1962.


Home—Burnt Head, Newfoundland, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


Poet, short story writer, essayist, and novelist. Founder of ReLit Awards, 2000; University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada, former writer-in-residence; Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada, former writer-in-residence; has also worked as an assistant film editor, graphic designer, magazine editor, short-order cook, trade show promoter, and amusement park manager.


PEN, Writers' Union of Canada.


Newfoundland Arts & Letters Award, several awards for poetry, short fiction, drama, and photography; Winterset Award for excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing, and Writers' Trust award for fiction, both for Inside.


No Lies: And Other Stories, Robinson-Blackmore (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada), 1985.

Directions for an Opened Body (stories), Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.

Brud: A Parable, Little, Brown (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

The Hole That Must Be Filled (stories), Little, Brown (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

Stalkers, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

Kill the Poets: Anti-verse, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

The Great Misogynist, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Heart to Heart, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Nine-tenths Unseen: A Psychological Mystery, Somerville House Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Lift up Your Eyes (poems), Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

We Must Let Him Know, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

The Flesh So Close: Stories, Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

The Woman in the Closet (mystery novel), Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

As Time Winds Down, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Everyone Hates a Beauty Queen: Provocative Opinions and Irrelevant Humor, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Skin Hound (There Are No Words): A Transcomposite Novel, Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Sense the Need, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

(With Eve Mills Nash) Little White Squaw: A White Woman's Story of Abuse, Addiction, and Reconciliation, Beach Holme (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

Artists United, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

The Town That Forgot How to Breathe (novel), Raincoast Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Heaven Only, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Shack: The Cutland Junction Stories, Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

The Path of Life, Plowman (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Inside, Random House Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.

Blackstrap Hawco, Harvill Secker (London, England), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province, Halifax Daily News, Toronto Star, and the Newfoundland Sunday Independent.


Kenneth J. Harvey is a Newfoundland-based writer who has published poetry, short stories, essays, editorials, and novels. In 2000, he also founded the ReLit Awards, which take place annually in British Columbia and Newfoundland, Canada. Short for Regarding Literature, Reinventing Literature, Relighting Literature, etc., the ReLit Awards recognize new writing published by independent Canadian presses.

Harvey's novel The Town That Forgot How to Breathe marked his debut in the United States. Set in a depressed fishing village in Newfoundland, the story has elements of romance, horror, mystery, and regionalism. Many of the town's inhabitants are suffering from a strange respiratory illness, long-lost bodies are washing up from the sea with no signs of decomposition, and mythical sea creatures are brought in by the fishermen's nets. With the number of characters and subplots, a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews felt this was a "messy disaster novel" with a "lack of focus." A contributor to Publishers Weekly however, commended Harvey's "literary flair," while a reviewer for the Detroit Free Press noted that the "characters and their world … are meticulously created." Ann H. Fisher wrote in Library Journal that The Town That Forgot How to Breathe is "mystical, complicated, and always compelling."

Harvey's next effort, Inside, tells the story of Mr. Myrden—readers never learn his first name—who has spent fourteen years in prison for a murder he did not commit. It is the advent of DNA testing that eventually provides fresh evidence regarding Myrden's supposed crime, and that ultimately proves him innocent and enables him to get out of jail. Myrden's life turns upside down almost immediately, starting with the swarm of reporters and photographers waiting outside the prison when he is released. The world is vastly different from when Myrden was first incarcerated. His wife has moved on; his children are now adults. Money is no longer a problem, as Myrden's attorney gets him a monetary settlement for the hardship he has suffered—money that instantly lures his estranged wife back into his life. However, while money solves some problems, it causes many new ones. Likewise, people look at him differently now that he has been in prison. Some individuals accept his innocence, but as a result of his false incarceration treat him as something of a martyr. On the other hand, a number of individuals fail to acknowledge that he has been revealed to be innocent, and instead behave toward him as if he were in fact a killer and has only been allowed to walk free due to the mercies of a technicality. Ruth, an old lover, comes back into Myrden's life, providing him with something else to focus on as he attempts to restart his life. Likewise, his four-year-old granddaughter provides him with a welcome distraction. A number of newspapers in Canada declared Harvey's effort to be among the best books written that year. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Harvey's prose is startlingly economical and plain … and gives the reader immediate access to Myrden's inner conflicted reticence." Harvey's use of short sentences throughout the course of the novel helps to give readers a feel for Myrden's turmoil in the wake of his ordeal, providing, according to Booklist reviewer Thomas Gaughan, a "hint at what Myrden is thinking as he reacts to the world—and the people—he confronts after fourteen years behind bars." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked that the book reveals how "even after the prison doors have opened, family cycles of violence and revenge can keep a man in chains." The Kirkus Reviews contributor went on to conclude that "this moody, brooding portrait will leave readers chilled and profoundly moved." Lawrence Rungren, who reviewed the book for Library Journal, found it to be "a powerfully raw portrait of a man who discovers that prisons don't necessarily require bars on the windows." Luan Gaines, writing for the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, observed that "Harvey is unflinching in his portrayal of a man trapped between hope and reality, a hardened heart calmed for a brief moment before Myrden bows to his destiny."



Booklist, August 1, 2007, Thomas Gaughan, review of Inside, p. 46.

Detroit Free Press, November 2, 2005, review of The Town That Forgot How to Breathe.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2005, review of The Town That Forgot How to Breathe, p. 872; August 15, 2007, review of Inside.

Library Journal, October 15, 2005, Ann H. Fisher, review of The Town That Forgot How to Breathe, p. 45; August 1, 2007, Lawrence Rungren, review of Inside, p. 68.

Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2005, review of The Town That Forgot How to Breathe, p. 208; July 9, 2007, review of Inside, p. 27.


Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (August 1, 2008), Luan Gaines, review of Inside.

Danforth Review,http://www.danforthreview.com/ (March 21, 2006), interview with Kenneth J. Harvey.

Kenneth J. Harvey Home Page,http://www.kennethjharvey.com (February 28, 2006).

Writers in Electronic Residence,http://www.wier.ca/ (February 28, 2006), biography of Kenneth J. Harvey.

Writers' Union of Canada Web site,http://www.writersunion.ca/ (February 28, 2006), biography of Kenneth J. Harvey.

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